Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Toledo Preview...

Since Vanderbilt’s Basketball team is apparently not safe from any opponent after Tuesday’s debacle against Furman, you should expect to see a scouting report and analysis of every Men’s Basketball game from here on out. First, to Toledo. For those of you who do not know, Toledo is in Ohio. According to the city’s website, it is “A Great Place to Be.” They have a zoo, are home to the Triple-A Mudhens, and the Port of Toledo, which has been recognized as one of the Great Lakes' most diversified international cargo facilities.

Besides a Zoo, Mudhens, and a diversified international cargo facility, Toledo is also home to last year’s Mid-American Conference runner’s-up, the University of Toledo Rockets. The Rockets make the 978 mile trek south to Memorial Gym with a record of 2-3 this Saturday night. Not a great defensive team, on the season, the Rockets are allowing their opponents to shoot almost 48% from the floor (Vanderbilt has allowed an identical percentage). Adding insult to injury, Toledo averages 19.6 turnovers a game. If the Commodores can knock down a few shots (a big if) and capitalize off of turnovers (another big if), they should be in pretty good shape.

What concerns me about Toledo is their experience. The Toledo Rockets start three seniors, one junior and a sophomore. Their seniors, Guard Justin Ingram, Swingman Keonta Howell, and Forward Florentio Valencia account for 75% of Toledo’s offensive production, and 50% of their rebounds. The Rockets, however, are not very deep. They have 4 players averaging over 31 minutes a game, with sophomore Tyrone Kent (who played high school ball in Chicago with Valencia) coming in at 26 and a few stragglers off the bench. Vanderbilt needs to contain at least one of the three seniors and look to play an up-tempo game by pushing the ball. Vanderbilt, despite their inauspicious start, is a more athletic and a much deeper team then they have had in years past—hopefully, Stallings will look to take advantage.

Another weakness of Toledo is their lack of size (which matters). No one over 6-7 (Freshman Jerrah Young, who has played a total of 22 minutes in 5 games) has stepped on the floor for the Rockets all season. Toledo’s opponents average a 4.5 edge on the glass.

For Vanderbilt, the keys to the game seem pretty clear. One, they have got to hit shots. Hopefully, the Commodores will look to create scoring opportunities by penetrating early and not relying so heavily on the three-ball. This approach has the added benefit of potentially getting one or more of the Rockets in foul trouble early. Look for Ross Neltner to have a big game. Because of his size, his ability to score in the paint, and the fact that he appears to be the only Commodore willing to crash the boards. As discussed above, the depth of Vanderbilt’s bench should come in handy. 10 players for Vanderbilt are averaging 10 minutes or better, and JeJuan Brown and Dan Cage have been pleasant surprises early. As Brother Woody said, “I think we've proven we can lose to anyone and that no game is an automatic win. Treat Toledo as though it were UK from a few years ago, or UF from this year. Play hard, hustle, and for god sakes, take smart shots.” Wise words Brother Woody, wise words indeed.


Woody said...

Thanks for the shot out you irish drunk.

Anonymous said...

Bobby O'Shea secretly buzzes


Seamus O'Toole said...

Defense, defense, defense. The Commies MUST contain Toledo point guard Kashif
Payne tonight. We have yet to prove that we can keep track of a point guard, and make no mistake: backs are against the wall in Memorial. Hard to call it a character test so early in the season, but I think that is exactly what this is. In a few minutes, we'll find out whether or not this season should we written off. This is a must-win game, and while that is unfortunate, that is reality. Go Dores.